Saturday, December 31, 2011

Historic Temples, Patan, Nepal

I want to follow-up on the previous post of hidden courtyards of Patan with some photographs of temples and more common tourist sights. Patan is a visual delight in every way. Most tourists are dropped off on Mangaal Bazaar in front of the ticket booth at Durbar Square and proceed north past a series of temples and the palace complex.

Note that in Nepal, temples are not just sterile monuments visited by tourists, but are used by local residents in their every day lives. Old folks sit and watch the view, younger folks play games or chat.

One of the first temples on the left is the Hari Shankar Mandir, dedicated to both Vishnu and Shiva. Note the fantastic carved doorways and lintels, and the unusual "ears" off the doors. Most of these temples needed major rebuilding after a powerful earthquake in 1934.

The young ladies are taking portraits of each other at the Jagan Narayan Mandir, built in 1565.

The next one north, with an old lady enjoying a cig, was the Bishwanath Mandir.

I did not take many photographs in the Palace, but many of the architectural details showed interesting shadows and patterns. The wall by the main entrance is a popular place for the local gents to sit and watch the local scene. The Palace was mainly constructed in the second half of the seventeenth century and substantially rebuilt after an invasion in 1769 and the 1934 earthquake

Many visitors go to the Hiranyavarna Mahavihara, popularly known as the "Golden Temple". It may be one of the most opulent small temples in Patan and occupies a cramped courtyard of the 12th century Kwa Bahal Buddhist monastery. Tourists are not allowed to take any leather inside, but modern synthetic running shoes are all right. I am not sure about the symbolism of the monkeys sitting next to the prayer wheels, or the purpose of the chains draped over one of the monkeys. Possibly a reader can enlighten me. The monastery is active, and upstairs, I saw a European gent chanting and leading a group in prayer.

Again, I want to emphasize that Patan is a living city, not some dead architectural site. People, shops, traffic, noise, and smells are everywhere. It's a bit run-down, but from constant use, not abandonment and neglect.

Another theme that impressed me about Nepal is the commerce being carried out everywhere. The jolly bald gent sells singing bowls. Amazingly (or diplomatically) he remembered me after an absence of four years. He even convinced me to buy another bowl!

The gent with the flowers threads them on long strings.

If you don't want brass bowls or flowers, why not buy a chicken?

This petite mother was taking her children to school. This was another theme that impressed me about Nepal: the strong education ethic. Families believe strongly that education will help their children achieve better lives. We in USA could learn from the Nepalis.

Photographs taken with Olympus E-330, Panasonic G1, and Fujifilm F31fd digital cameras.


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